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Beijing Rolls Out Steps to Improve Traffic
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Beijing had an increase of nearly 1,000 vehicles every day on average last year. To cope with the increasing traffic pressure, the city's traffic authorities said yesterday that they will be speeding up road construction, and will be further developing an intelligent transportation system this year, China News Service said today.

Beijing currently has more than 2.6 million automobiles, and the volume of private cars has reached 1.3 million, said Liu Xiaoming, a spokesman for the capital's traffic commission.

To ease traffic congestion, more than 10 roads, including Tonghuihe Road,  Fengbei Road, Xidawang Road, Majaibao Road and Wanshou Road, will be built this year. The capital will also start the construction of Fushi Road, Puhuangyu Road, Chongnei Avenue and Xinnei Avenue this year.

The urban construction bureau also said they will add two exits to the Fifth Ring Road this year, a bid to facilitate entry and exiting on the major ring artery.

Liu said the capital will also open its second BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line this year just after launching the first one last year, and will open more BRT lines in the future.

BRT is a bus system that basis their operations very much like a rail transportation system. Big-volume buses, larger than ordinary buses, will run on an exclusive lane. Passengers are required to buy tickets at the bus stations along the line before getting on. Such operations will help decrease the amount of traffic jams and raise efficiency noticeably.

Liu said Beijing will test a new charging system on the city's toll roads this year as part of a plan to enhance traffic intelligence. If drivers install an intelligent recognition chip on their vehicles' windshields and store money into the account, the fees can be deducted automatically while passing the toll station without having to stop.

As for the downtown, authorities will float parking fares and reduce parking spaces in those places vulnerable to traffic jams to relieve clogged traffic, Liu added.

(Shanghai Daily January 27, 2006)

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